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Full Lehighton board designing school

Published August 28. 2014 12:43PM

Design committees for three proposed building projects in Lehighton Area School District will each include all nine board members following an 8-1 vote this week.

Superintendent Jonathan Cleaver had assigned each board member to one of three design committees for either a proposed $32.5 million elementary center, a $10.7 million renovation to Lehighton Middle School or a $9.3 million renovation to Lehighton High School.

Gloria Bowman, Wayne Wentz, Stephen Holland and Andrew Yenser were invited to serve on the elementary center committee; Larry Stern, Hal Resh and Rocky Ahner on the middle school design team; and William J. Hill Jr. and Lori Nothstein on the high school committee.

"We're going to be having the final say on these projects and I think all the committees should involve the board as a whole," Hill said on Monday.

Stern was the only board member to vote against the full-board committees.

Cleaver said putting all nine board members on the committees means those meetings would need to be advertised. He said Tuesday he wasn't sure what the financial impact would be to the district.

"All of the information from these design meetings goes back to the board anyway," Cleaver said before the vote. "The only things coming out of the meetings are design suggestions. They are not final decisions. The board makes those decisions."

The elementary center committee, slated to meet between 8 and 12 times, also includes residents, teachers, support staff and administrators.

The group met for the first time on Aug. 13 to look at potential layouts for the approximately 140,000-square-foot building, which would house all of the district's K-5 students.

Mark Barnhardt, lead project architect from EI Associates, said the committee will have discussions from how classrooms are setup to whether the cafeteria tables long rectangles or round.

"I'm hearing this gym is going to be 12,000 square feet," Hill said. "That is huge. We're talking probably about a $1 million gym. Are we building Pauley Pavilion at UCLA or an elementary center gymnasium?"

Board member Wayne Wentz said he didn't have a problem with the full-board committees as long as teachers and community members remained a part of them as well.

"I don't know what a music teacher needs in their room or what a kitchen staff needs," Wentz said. "I think having their voice be a part of this is important."

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